On April 26, American’s management announced that it would unilaterally offer flight attendants pay increases to match Delta’s April 1, 2017 rates. New rates will be effective as early as May 1 upon acceptance by APFA, the AA flight attendants’ union. Pilots will also be receiving increases. This was one week after APFA lost a “costly and hard-fought” arbitration that sought pay parity with Delta. Arbitrators had ruled that the union’s negotiated contract language only warranted a 1.6% increase.
With this announcement, American and Delta will have the same pay rates at each step of the scale, with top-of-scale (TOS) at $64.96. United’s TOS is $62.00 ($62.83 for flight attendants who work 80 hours per month).
Other employee groups were not included in American’s pay increase announcement, including the mechanics and below-wing agents represented by an association between TWU and the IAM. They have been negotiating a joint collective bargaining agreement since the end of 2015.
While American continues to chase Delta, Delta flight attendants maintain industry leading total compensation through a more valuable profit sharing plan and Delta’s Shared Rewards operational performance. In February 2017, Delta flight attendants received profit sharing payouts totaling 10.3% while American flight attendants received 3% (UA flight attendants received 7.88%). In addition, Delta flight attendants receive up to 9% in defined contributions to their 401k accounts from Delta (3% fixed, 6% match) while all American flight attendants will only receive up to 5.5% in defined contributions from American (3% fixed, 2.5% match) beginning in 2019.
In making the announcement, American management said that “these adjustments reflect a real philosophical change” but that American will only work to address sub-standard pay rates when there are “sizeable discrepancies in pay rates between our team members and other major airlines and our contracts are still years away from their amendable dates.” American management said nothing about changing their bottom-of-the-industry profit sharing plan or addressing other work rules or benefits prior to their next round of negotiations. The APFA agreement at American does not reopen for negotiations until December 2018.